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July 15, 1999
Pak refuses to take back bodies of its officers
India today charged Pakistan with doing ''great disservice to the families of their soldiers and to the traditions of armed forces everywhere'' by its persistent and callous refusal to accept the bodies of Pakistan Army regulars killed in the Kargil operations.
''It is clear that Pakistan is fully aware of the identities of these bodies but it does not wish to acknowledge this fact as it would immediately expose its army's involvement in Kargil,'' an external affairs ministry spokesman told reporters in New Delhi.
He noted that Pakistan is persisting in this fiction concerning the bodies of two officers of the Pakistan Army who had died in action on the Indian side of the Line of Control. The two were identified as Captian Karnal Sher of the 12 Northern Light Infantry and Captain Imtiaz Malik of the 165 Mortar Regiment. Both bodies were in possession of the Indian authorities.
The spokesman recalled that the recovery of these bodies was conveyed to the Pakistan government on July 12 so that these could be handed over to Islamabad. However, New Delhi did not receive any response.
Subsequently, the International Committee of the Red Cross approached India on July 13 on behalf of the Pakistan government for handing over the bodies. The Pakistani request did not specify the names and identities of the two officers despite the information available with it, the spokesman added.
The Pakistan government conveyed through the ICRC that the material India had furnished was ''insufficient'' to establish the identities of the officers and it would like the bodies to be handed over and taken to Islamabad for verification.
The spokesman said India offered to the Pakistani authorities that it would be ready to receive in India family members of the two dead officers so that they could identify the bodies and take them over. ''We had pointed out that it is unprecedented and unheard of for bodies to be sent abroad in this fashion for the purpose of identification. If Pakistan doubts them, it is for their representatives to come and see the bodies. We have not yet received a response from Pakistan through the ICRC,'' he said.
He added India had conveyed to the ICRC that because of the weather, the condition of the bodies was deteriorating and the Red Cross should come back with the Pakistan government's response by 11 AM today. Pakistan had, however, not conveyed its response.
''In view of the humanitarian nature of the problem, the Indian Army authorities will wait as long as it is possible to get a response from the Pakistan authorities through the ICRC,'' he added.
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